MLB posted a tweet the other day on former major leaguers who passed away in 2021. Most of them I were aware of but I few I hadn’t heard.

But in one way or another, a lot of them crossed paths with the Cincinnati Reds at some point in ways that I remembered as a Reds fan.

Ray Fosse

This is an obvious one because of the collision of Pete Rose and Fosse at home plate at Riverfront Stadium in 1970 is probably the most famous play in All-Star Game history. Game tied. Rose on second. Jim Hickman singles to centerfield. Amos Otis makes the throw. Third base Coach Leo Durocher waves Rose home. Bam! National League wins. Ironically, Fosse and Rose were friends. They had dinner the night before. The play epitomized the way Rose played baseball and in this day and age, you would never see it again in an All-Star Game. Not a chance.

Hank Aaron

Another obvious one— it was Aaron’s home run at Riverfront Opening Day in 1974— Marty Brennamen’s first game as a Reds broadcaster– that tied Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs. That one came off Jack Billingham and Aaron would break the record days later against Al Downing and the Dodgers.

Richie Scheinblum

This switch-hitting outfielder came to the Reds in the Wayne Simpson/Hal McRae trade to the Kansas City Royals along with righthanded pitcher Roger ‘Spider’ Nelson. This one didn’t work out for the Reds. Nelson had arm problems and Scheinblum got off to a slow start in 1973 (12 for 54 for a .222 batting average with 1 homer and 8 RBI’s) and was traded in the middle of the season to the Angels for two “players to be named later.” They were Terry Wilshusen and Thor Skogan, in case you’re wondering.

Grant Jackson

A journeyman left handed reliever, Jackson robbed Johnny Bench of a hit in the 1976 World Series with a no-look field of a sharp grounder behind his back hit up the middle. It was one of the few highlights for the Yankees in a Series that the Reds dominated and swept them in four games.

Dick Tidrow

In the same Series, Bench clobbered his second home run in Game 4 off Tidrow to clinch the Most Valuable Award for the Series.

Mike Marshall

A Reds nemesis in the 1974 season was Marshall and the Dodgers held off the Reds in the National League West that season. It was a career-year for Marshall. He won the Cy Young Award as a relief pitcher but his career went downhill after that season.

JR Richard

On a personal note, I saw great pitching matchup at the Astrodome on June 25, 1978 when J.R. Richard went up against Tom Seaver. The Reds won 2-1 behind Seaver’s effort and a two-run homer by George Foster. It was the first game of a twin-bill (remember them?). Foster’s home run came in the first inning of the first game off Richard and the Reds were shutout the next 17 innings in a split when they were shutout in the second game 6-0. J.R. Richard was one tough pitcher.

Bill Freehan

Freehan and Johnny Bench were the starting catchers in the 1969 All-Star Game in Washington DC. Bench homered that night and was robbed of a second home run by Carl Yasztremski. Freehan was one of the best catchers in baseball during that time period.

Don Sutton

Another arch-foe of the Reds and Don Sutton had a great career, mostly with the Dodgers. He was the starting pitcher in the famous Hal King game in July 1973 at Riverfront in which King won the game with a dramatic pinch hit home run that fueled a Reds comeback to win the National League West. Sutton had many battles with the Reds during his HOF career.

Stan Williams

A pitching coach for Manager John McNamara. He replaced Larry Shepherd, who had coached Reds pitchers from 1970-1978.

16 Responses

  1. Mike Adams

    John, RE: Mike Marshall of the Dodgers.
    I can remember his comment that pitching against the Reds was like pitching against a high school team. Not well received by Reds fans.

    • David

      Yeah, John Montefusco (SF Giants) used to talk that way too.

      Marshall was supposedly a genius at kinestheology, the study of bones and muscles. He was going to be great forever. Pretty much, not.
      So it goes.

  2. David

    Henry Aaron, Atlanta/Milwaukee Braves great, would be on the “Star of the Game” radio show with Joe Nuxhall after the game (usually when Henry hit another home run against the Reds).
    Joe and Hank used to laughing the whole time. Joe claimed credit for Hank being great because he hit so many home runs off of him.
    I think Hank hit more home runs against the Reds (something over 90) than any other team.

    • TR

      Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s homerun record at Riverfront on Opening Day 1974. I saw Hank Aaron play his first ML game at Crosley on Opening Day 1954.

  3. Bob

    Bill Freehan did not play in the 1975 World Series and was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame together. He certainly was one of the best catchers in baseball during the 1960s and 1970s.

    Thanks. We’ve corrected the article.

  4. Rednat

    i remember those great battles between Foster and JR Richard. Richard would hold the ball for an eternity but Foster would never step out of the box. then when he was ready to pitch Foster would step out. great battles!

  5. Mark Moore

    JR Richard was a complete BEAST and never even hit is prime/peak. I often think he could have been the greatest of his era if he hadn’t had that stroke.

  6. Bryan Yarnell

    Thanks for the article John!
    I always enjoy reminiscing of the teams and players of the past. I’ve been following the Reds since Gordy Coleman was manning first base. Frank Robinson was my hero. Vada Pinson and Jim Maloney were close behind. A few years later, Ed Bailey would tell me stories about his time with the team in the 1950s. To me, the game seemed so pure then.

  7. LDS

    Never managed to catch JR pitch. Always wanted to. But I was lucky enough to have a seat near the 3rd base for Seaver’s no hitter.

  8. MK

    For some reason I followed Richie Scheinblum as a kid and was excited when the Reds acquired him. He was a notoriously a slow starter throughout his career, a fact you would have thought the Reds knew, ended up hitting .320+ for the Angels that season.
    There was a great deal of anger in Reds country when Manager Walt Alston selected his pitcher Mike Marshall for the All Star team in 1975 over Will McEnaney, as Will was having a much better ’75 than Marshall. As I recall Jack Billingham was very publicly outraged and outspoken about this.

  9. Optimist

    Mike Marshall was certainly unusual and interesting, and very good for a very long time. Perhaps most interesting is his role in the creation of Driveline, and Kyle Boddy’s career, and the union of physiology and analytics. Ahead of his time, and with what will likely be a long legacy.

  10. Oldtimer

    Ray Fosse was the first C selected in the 1965 draft.

    Johnny Bench was the eighth C selected in the 1965 draft.

    PS we had box seats in the Green right behind home plate for the 1970 ASG. We had a great view of the entire play.

  11. Votto4life

    I loved Henry Aaron. Quickest wrists I ever saw on a hitter.

    I was 12 years old during the summer of 1973. The whole county was caught up in Aaron’s race to pass Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record.

    That summer, I would listen to the Braves on radio. If conditions were just right, I could sometimes pick up the station.

    Henry Aaron ended his 1973 season just one home run behind Ruth.

    During the winter of 1973-74 I begged my father for tickets to opening day in hopes of witnessing Aaron tie Ruth’s record. Try as he might, my dad couldn’t land tickets for opening day.

    My father did get us tickets for the last game of the series against the Braves.

    As I expected Hank tied Ruth’s record on opening day. I thought, maybe I would see Aaron breaks Ruth record.

    After Aaron tied Ruth on opening day, the Braves announced they would not play Aaron the rest of the Cincinnati series. They wanted Hank to break the record in Atlanta.

    Thank goodness, Bowie Kuhn stepped in and dictated that the Braves play Aaron at least one more game in that series. So,
    the Braves started Aaron on the last game of the series. The game my father and I would be attending.

    I was so excited and was hoped to see baseball history.

    As it turned out, I did get to see Aaron play that Sunday. But there was no history to witness. Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s record the following night in Atlanta. I watched that game on TV like everyone else when Hammerin’ Hank hit home run #714 and went down in baseball history.

  12. Redsfan4life

    Stan Williams was not the Reds pitching coach in 1979. He was the pitching coach in 1984 and returned in 1990-91